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Professor Langbert Should Be Fired

A student holds up a sign during last Thursday’s protest. PHOTO/ Zainab Iqbal

By Kevin Limiti

Published: October 10th, 2018

At Brooklyn College, we should hold a professor’s conduct and speech to a higher account. These are people who have been deemed responsible and well learned enough to instruct others.

But Professor Mitchell Langbert’s post was not designed to be instructive, inspirational, or otherwise educational. It was an opinion that was expressed with the sole intention of shocking people, which has had the effect of making women on campus feel extremely uncomfortable.

Brooklyn College should not be a place where women feel threatened. By choosing to defend his position as being necessary to protect freedom of speech, the administration has likewise chosen to ignore the possibility that women who have been victims of sexual assault may have to interact with Langbert on campus, knowing the inflammatory things he said.

Regardless of what position the administration takes on this—especially considering the complicated process that would need to be undertaken to fire a professor on tenure—Langbert’s defense of his posting is completely nonsensical and bizarre.

“If someone did not commit sexual assault in high school, then he is not a member of the male sex.”

What is the over-arching point of this sentence if it is satire?  Satire is defined as “the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice.” Yet, his statements seem rather consistent with his views on the Kavanaugh debacle that our country is currently embroiled in, even using similar language between his post of “satire” and his non-satirical viewpoint on Democrats.

For example, he writes in the “satirical” blog post, “The Democrats have discovered that 15-year- olds play spin-the-bottle, and they have jumped on a series of supposed spin-the-bottle crimes during Kavanaugh’s minority.”

He then writes in his latest blog post about Kavanaugh: “Tom Fitton on Fox Business News claims that an FBI investigation will be incapable of revealing additional information concerning Kavanaugh’s 15-year-old spin-the-bottle activities.”

His usage of describing the alleged attempted rapes as “spin-the-bottle activities” is quite telling in this instance. Are we supposed to take it that both of these articles of satire? But even as satire, he fails. There doesn’t appear like there is a larger subtext to be understand here other then what he repeats again and again

His last-minute edited explanation of satire flies in the face of what satire actually is. You can find no trace of Jonathan Swift in his post and his claim that is in the tradition of Swift’s Modest Proposal is ridiculous. His suggestion that Brooklyn College students simply don’t understand and that “more time should be spent with Horace and Swift, and less time on political indoctrination” insults their intelligence and reeks of a kind of intellectual entitlement.

Professor Mitchel Langbert’s blog post wasn’t offensive by accident but by design. It is not, as Langbert might claim, in the spirit of Jonathan Swift. It was more like in the spirit of online trolling. Unfortunately, Langbert’s position as a professor makes his statement more than just an attention grab but a feasible threat to student safety and security. The administration needs to do the right thing and fire him.

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